Agriculture and rural development



Research and innovation

Horizon 2020 seeks to improve simultaneously the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and forestry while strengthening related food and non-food industries. It also seeks to empower rural communities to boost economic diversification and delivery of ecosystem services.

The challenges that the EU aims to address through Horizon 2020 are described in the Horizon 2020 Specific Programme. According to this programme, research activities will:


  • Improve production efficiency, sustainability and resilience

    Enhancing productivity as well as the capacity of plants, animals and production systems to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and climate with increasingly scarce natural resources. The resulting innovations will help to move towards a resource-efficient agriculture and food and feed supply chains which consume fewer resources.

  • Deliver more public goods and ecosystem services

    Contributing to a better understanding of the complex interactions between primary production systems and ecosystems services. Supporting the provision of these public goods and services through the delivery of management solutions, decision-support tools and the assessment of their market and non-market value.

  • Empower rural people and develop better policies

    Strengthening rural communities' capacities for production and for delivery of ecosystems services. Fostering economic diversification, ensuring appropriate relations between rural and urban areas, as well as facilitating knowledge exchange, demonstration, innovation and dissemination. They will support policy makers in defining relevant strategies.
  • Create more sustainable forestry

    Promoting multi-functional forests which deliver a variety of ecological, economic, and social benefits. Focusing on the further development of sustainable forestry systems which can address societal challenges and demands, including forest owners' needs, by putting in place multifunctional approaches taking into account climate change.
  • Build a sustainable and competitive agri-food industry

    Addressing the needs for the food and feed industry to cope with social, environmental, climate and economic change from local to global. Projects will consider all stages of the food and feed production chain, including food design, processing, packaging, process control, waste reduction, by-product valorisation and the safe use or disposal of animal by-products.
  • Support market development for bio-based products and processes

    Opening new markets for biotechnology innovation, through in particular demand-side measures. Standardisation and certification at Union and international levels are needed for, amongst others, determination of bio-based content, product functionalities and biodegradability. Methodologies and approaches to life-cycle analysis will be further developed.


Read more about these challenges